Homebound by John David Anderson Blog Tour

 Once again, I am over the moon to be able to participate in a blog tour for the latest John David Anderson book. This one is the second book in a science fiction duology. Science Fiction is one of my absolute favorite genres, and I am so excited to see another amazing addition to middle grade sci-fi hit the shelves.

Yes, those are Star Wars mini posters, a Yoda comic,
 and a book about Sally Ride behind me.
Here is the publisher's summary:

Leo Fender is no stranger to catastrophe, whether it’s the intergalactic war that took his mother’s life or the ongoing fight for his own. He’s seen his planet plundered, his ship attacked, his father kidnapped, and his brother go missing—and found himself stranded on a ship with a bunch of mercenary space pirates. Still, nothing could have prepared him for the moment he and the crew tried to save his father—and discovered a dark plot that could destroy hundreds of worlds in the blink of an eye.

Now, Leo is adrift. His father has sent him on a mission with nothing but a data chip and a name of someone who could help, and Captain Bastian Black and the crew of the Icarus are determined to see this through to the end with Leo, to fulfill his father’s wish and prevent further conflict. But as Leo searches for answers, he can’t help but wonder what it would take to end the war, to track down his father and brother and return to whatever home they have left—and if the cost of doing so is one he would be able to pay.

John David Anderson returns with the conclusion to the epic coming-of-age adventure that began in Stowaway—a riveting and heartfelt search for hope and home, family and future, in a galaxy ravaged by war.

My Thoughts:
Homebound is a wonderful conclusion to the story that begins in Stowaway. Throughout the entire book I enjoyed seeing Leo grow, learning more about the crew of the Icarus, and experiencing Leo's childhood through the deftly woven flashbacks. It is also the perfect blend of adventure, humor, and all the things I love most about science fiction.

-- Exploration of Family. All of my favorite science fiction books, movies, and television shows lean heavily into the idea of what it means to be a family. Leo is desperate to reunite with his father and brother, but he also acquires a new "found family" in the pirates of the Icarus. Seeing those relationships blossom was pure delight.

-- Fun References. One of the best parts of science fiction books - which are almost invariably set in the future - is the delightful inclusion of references to the past; and how some of those references are actually still "future" events to today. I love to read cheeky references to Star Wars, Star Trek, and other scifi staples of today. Anderson's call back to Ewok's being "Threepio-ed" really made me chuckle. So many of the kids who are his target audience (middle grade readers) have parents who have been steeping them in "classic" Star Wars that I know it will make the kids chuckle too!

-- Aliens. Okay, I'm going to make a slightly embarrassing confession here. When I was a kid I spent endless hours drawing aliens (not terribly well - but not everyone can be a talented artist). Every time we were treated to a visual description of a new alien species, I flashed back to those early drawings and smiled. I mean - who wouldn't want to draw THIS? 
 "it's squished figure composed of two squat legs, two short arms, and an almost nonexistent neck supporting a triangular head that reminded Leo a ltitle of a praying mantis's, with two antennae and a pair of bulbous red eyes sticking out of either side like oversize Christmas ornaments" (pg. 30)
-- Ethical Quandaries. In a more serious vein - one of the deeply important benefits of science fiction is that we can explore intense ethical questions in a way that is not as threatening as looking at current people and events. Anderson's duology of Stowaway and Homebound are excellent examples. In this future, Earth's resources are being plundered by an alien species. In return, we receive advanced technology that allows us to cure cancer and travel the stars. Leo asks himself, "Everything comes at a cost. How do you balance the one against the other? How do you choose? And why should you have to?" (pg 97). Readers can wrestle with these questions alongside Leo and also clearly see the parallel to today's biggest environmental and scientific ethical dilemmas. Challenge the readers in your life to find more of these quandaries in Homebound -- and then take some time to talk to and encourage them to struggle with their answers. There ARE no easy answers, but this generation of readers will need to help us all find a better way. 

ICYMI - I posted about the power of "what if" and science fiction on my blog waaaaaay back in 2012. All of that is true today - especially as we are on the edge of heading back to the Moon and moving on to Mars!

Check out other books by John David Anderson that I've posted about on my blog:
One Last Shot
Finding Orion
Dungeoneers (Q&A) . Dungeoneers (fun author post)
Sidekicked (review) . Sidekicked (fun author post)

John David Anderson is the author of some of the most beloved and highly acclaimed books for kids in recent memory, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, Stowaway, Granted, Sidekicked, and The Dungeoneers. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wonderful wife and two frawsome kids in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org.

August 23 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub
August 26 A Library Mama @alibrarymama
August 30 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read
September 3 Maria's Mélange @mariaselke

Disclaimer: I received free access from the publisher to a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts about the novel. I purchased a hard copy to take in and share with the students in my school.


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